I’ve been struck by a number of instances lately of rank insensitivity to blacks and black voters on the part of conservatives and Republicans, so I pulled together a number of them below:
1. Three Hours to Vote
Two weeks ago on Fox News, Brian Kilmeade, Bill Hemmer, and Martha MacCallum used up air time questioning what the big deal is that 102-year-old Desaline Victor, a black woman, had to wait 3 hours in line to vote last fall.
Can we go ahead and agree that nobody in an industrialized, high-tech democracy like the United States should have to wait in line three hours to vote? I had to take my two young children to the poll with me, and we got in and out of there in about 10 minutes. If I had had to wait for three hours, it would have been extremely difficult for me to vote. Standing in line for just an extra half hour would have been tough. I sympathize with anybody who had to wait a long time.
For some of Fox News’ broadcasters to laugh about this woman’s ordeal is really beyond the pale. It’s dismissive of black people (and Hispanics) who are much more likely to have to wait in long lines to vote, and it’s also disrespectful toward older Americans. They should pull their heads out of the conservative echo chamber and get some fresh air to their brains.
2. Electoral College Deform
In the Virginia statehouse, a Republican senator proposed electoral college reform that would apportion Virginia’s electoral votes based on voting results within congressional districts.
The proposed plan, if it had been in place in 2012, would have given Mitt Romney more electoral votes in Virginia, even though Obama received a majority of the state’s popular vote. The justification for the plan goes something like this: State Senator Charles Carrico of Grayson County “wants to give smaller communities a bigger voice. ‘The last election, constituents were concerned that it didn’t matter what they did, that more densely populated areas were going to outvote them,’ he said.”
Well, yes, Virginia’s rural Republican votes meant nothing in the Electoral College in 2012, because they were in the statewide minority. The fact that the Electoral College negates them does not mean the solution is to render them the majority by making their votes count more than Democrat urban people’s votes. That would make the Electoral College even more anti-democratic.
The racial implications of this proposal are clear because Virginia’s black population (20% of the total population) is concentrated in urban areas, and they heavily favored Democrats.
3. Ann Coulter’s Demographic Problem
Ann Coulter suggested on Sean Hannity’s program in January that a high gun homicide rate for black people is not a problem. “If you compare white populations, we have the same murder rate as Belgium,” Coulter said. “So perhaps it’s not a gun problem, it’s a demographic problem.”
People, no matter what color or ethnicity, getting killed with guns at the rate the US experiences is a gun problem. It would be accurate to say, though, that our problem with gun violence has demographic dimensions.
Ann Coulter seems to think that real racism is over. Based on her comments, judge for yourself.
4. Imagining Martin Luther King Jr. as a Gun Rights Advocate
In January, Gun Appreciation Day chair Larry Ward said on CNN, “I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”
This is historical revisionism that goes haywire on so many levels. MLK jr.’s main message was non-violence. To see a more in-depth evaluation, watch Al Sharpton take Larry Ward apart here.
Perhaps Larry Ward got Martin Luther King Jr. mixed up with the Black Panthers?
5. Sarah Palin Unapologetically Using Racially-Charged Expression
On her Facebook page, Sarah Palin posted the following statement a couple weeks before the 2012 election:
“Why the lies? Why the cover up? Why the dissembling about the cause of the murder of our ambassador on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil? We deserve answers to this. President Obama’s shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.”
“Shuck and jive” originally was a reference to the actions of American slaves when they “sang and shouted gleefully during corn-shucking season, and this behavior, along with lying and teasing, became a part of the protective and evasive behavior normally adopted towards white people.” (Dictionary of American Slang)
Palin went into defensive posture and called Chris Matthews and Andrew Cuomo out for previously using the term, and then she meandered into a discussion of how she talks to her one-eighth Native Alaskan children. (Andrew Cuomo used the term in 2008 toward Obama, and he had the good sense to later apologize for his choice of words. Chris Matthews used it in describing Rachel Maddow’s journalistic work as he was interviewing Maddow.)
Given its historical context, it’s a term that should be used with caution, and it’s not advisable for white people to use it in reference to the actions of black people (or probably anybody else). It’s like a man attributing a female leader’s actions to PMS. It’s just bad form.
So, that’s my round-up, and I didn’t even get started on the idea of Democrats offering so-called “gifts” to minorities.